Brands don't want to be the “canary in the coal mine”

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 26 March 2015

Brands are swarming to social media – if they're not there already. But while many might be focused on getting involved, social media agency Quiip CEO Alison Michalk said making sure the content is within the bounds of the law is becoming more and more vital.

Speaking to AdNews, after the announcement Quiip would be partnering with media law firm von Muenster Solicitors & Attorneys, to provide additional legal support for clients, Michalk said that by nature, social media sites have a lot of risk attached to them.

Big issues that Michalk said are common on social platforms and online includes the obvious: concerns about defamatory content, discriminatory content and user experience risk when it comes to bullying, and negative behaviour. Far less easily identified, she said, are issues around high-risk content.

“I still don’t think a lot of ASX-listed companies monitor their social presence. The ASX actually has Social Media guidelines that stipulate that companies must monitor their social presences, however, many ASX listed companies do not do this,” Michalk said. 

“Think about comments that could have an impact on your business’s share price, that's a lot of different sets of issues.”

Michalk said that incident-specific issues can also come back to haunt brands. An example is a superannuation fund which was dealing with a construction death, during a time where ads on a social media page included an image of a crane. She said “being aware of what is happening in the broader company” can be an important way for brands to stay out of legal trouble.

“We're talking about large entities that have huge consumer bases that are talking about their product and services here, there and everywhere,” Michalk said.

“It becomes not only about the social presences that you own and manage. Are these brands listening to conversations that are taking place elsewhere as well? I think that's an important element of what's to come.”

Quiip recently announced it is working with media law firm von Muenster Solicitors & Attorneys to provide 24/7 support for clients around social media and legal advice.

Michalk said the problem is that legal issues around social media aren't clear cut, meaning clients are often unsure what their online obligations are.

“Part of von Muenster's job is to read where they see things are going,” Michalk said.

“No one wants to be this canary down the coal mine, or the organisation that is going to get into trouble for certain things. So it's about managing those risks.

“Community managers have to make a lot of quick decisions in a rapidly moving space and when something takes off it's a big responsibility. There is definitely a lot of grey area which is why people need to be fully clued up as to what is correct and legal.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus